Adjusting to expat life has been an adventure in itself durring the 6 years of living in France therefore I am full of tips that I am constantly giving to those newly arrived in Hungary that I meet. These tips are all things I have tried or experienced and wished I would have known before I moved abroad. I hope they help all you new expats out there and maybe even give us a little reminder!
1. Try anything and everything that sounds interesting to you
Always wanted to try pottery? Interested in trying out for a sports team? Want to join a bookclub? Go for it! Now is the time to try new things and really, what do you have to lose? Some things will turn out horrible (also did for me) but you never know when you will meet your new best friend or discover a hobby that you are passionate about. Your in a new country so why not try as many new things as possible!
2. Feeling homesick is okay
Unless you are one of the lucky ones who never gets homesick, homesickness is bound to hit at some point. Homesickness is a tricky business, one minute you are laughing with your new friends having a great time, the next your mother calls you and your near to tears missing home. Feeling homesick is totally normal and it happens no matter how happy you are in your new home. When homesickness hits and you wish you were home just remember why you chose to move abroad and all the positive that comes with your new life. Everyone has their own way of dealing with their feelings of homesickness, find what works for you and those times of when homesickness strikes won’t be as bad.
3. Take rejection easy
When you start a new life in a foreign country you have to be prepared for the negative side of things. There will be times when you are turned down for the job you really wanted because you are foreign, others exclude you from their conversation by speaking in a language you don’t understand, someone comments about your strange accent and you just feel like you won’t ever fit in. Don’t let these moments of rejection get to you. Shake it off and move on. You will find your people and where you belong, be patient, keep putting yourself out there, and always smile!
4. Be able to laugh at yourself
Never did I think a simple trip to the bank would embarrass me so or that I would make a complete fool of myself at the post office. But it has happened to me, more than once, and laughing it off was the only thing that kept me from crying. Your new, you don’t understand how things work just yet and you may not understand the language, your going to have those embarrassing moments when you just want to run back home. Don’t let this things get you down on expat life. Laugh about it, know it isn’t the end of the world, and move on.
5. Letting go of relationships back home is okay
While it is tempting to spend your time in your flat on skype with friends and family back home don’t do it! I know you miss home like crazy and talking with friends and family make the transition of moving abroad a little less difficult. But when you hold on to life back home you take yourself out of what is happening around you.
You moved abroad for an adventure and to meet new people. To do that you need to get out there and mingle with those around you! Don’t worry about those back home. If they are your true friends they will understand you don’t have as much time to talk and will always be there when you need them.
6. Run from the negative people
You can’t avoid it, there are always going to be those negatives around, but when you are still adjusting to a new country you do not need that in your life. From my experience when you met one negative person they are full of stories of everything that is bad and can go wrong in your new home. This is not helpful at all. Surround yourself with friendly faces full of positive thoughts, you will need them on your speed dial on days when you need a reminder of why you chose to change your life.
7. Don’t let doubt hold you back
Only planning on living abroad for a year and then return home? Not wanting to get too attached to anyone or anything so that you won’t want to leave again? Let go of these feelings and see where it takes you! I held myself back for awhile not wanting to let go completely of my old life and all it did was make me unhappy. Letting go and fully embracing life in my new surroundings has made me appreciate and enjoy things so much more, which ultimately makes for a happier expat life!
8. Be patient!
I wish it was as simple as a snap of the fingers for you to feel comfortable in your new surroundings, this would have saved me a lot of sadness! At times I would feel stressed that I wasn’t feeling comfortable in my surroundings yet and worried that something was wrong with me for it taking me a long time to settle in. Finally realizing that I was not like others around me and I needed to adjust on my own time made me feel more at ease in my surroundings. It may have taken me a year but I am finally feeling settled and you will too, just give yourself time.
9. Don’t guilt trip yourself
A topic I have discussed with fellow expats lately is the feeling of guilt for choosing to live away from our families. Some of my friends (myself included) sometimes feel guilty for moving away from our families to a new country. When you feel like your missing out on important moments back home you tend to question your decision of moving away from them. And when your mother calls you crying and your not there to comfort her, it can be a tough thing to not feel guilty for leaving. Even though it is a tough emotion to deal with remember that living out your dreams is just as important, don’t forget to take care of yourself.
10. Explore as much as possible!
You spent months planning your move abroad and now you are finally in your new home. Don’t waste away your time sticking to the same daily routine. Get out and explore as much as possible! Act like a tourist, visit all the museums and attractions, pretend like your on vacation, explore and gain a new appreciation for your new home.
Last and most important of all, have fun and enjoy your expat life, you never know where it will take you! If you need more time to do it, free up some of your time and hire Smile Relocation & Concierge services.
What advice would you give to a new expat?